Homicide rates linked to trust in government?

I figure that this article has hit on something that explains a lot.  The basic idea is that the level of trust held by a populace in its government influences the murder rate in that society.  When people trust their government and feel justice and respect can be obtained through the system without resorting to violence, murder rates are low.  When the government is not responsive to the people, and is not trusted to deliver justice for its citizens, murder rates increase:

In his analysis, Roth found four factors that relate to the homicide rate in parts of the United States and western Europe throughout the past four centuries: the belief that one's government is stable and its justice and legal systems are unbiased and effective; a feeling of trust in government officials and a belief in their legitimacy; a sense of patriotism and solidarity with fellow citizens; and a belief that one's position is society is satisfactory and that one can command respect without resorting to violence.

When those feelings and beliefs are strong, homicide rates are generally low, regardless of the time or place, Roth said. But when people are unsure about their government leaders, don't feel connected to the rest of society, and feel they don't have opportunity to command respect in the community, homicide rates go up.

America has always distrusted its political leaders; we practically founded our nation on that principle.  It's not likely to be something that can be fixed -- if it even should be -- by just electing the right person.  Instead, what needs to happen is to elect leaders who will respect the rights of the people rather than advancing their own beliefs while disparaging the beliefs of others.  That gives people confidence that their own lives are safe and won't be arbitrarily interfered with by government.  That's a judgement not necessarily based on the system of government, but having a government that explicitly lacks the power to destroy its political opponents certainly helps a lot.

This entry was published Fri Dec 04 11:57:54 CST 2009 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2009-12-04 11:57:54.0. [Tweet]

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